Smokers face fostering ban

FOSTER parents in Barnsley who smoke could be banned from looking after children under five.

The move is part of a campaign to reduce the possible risk to children's health from passive smoking.

Under proposed new rules being considered by Barnsley Council, children aged under five would not be placed with families who smoke.

But older children would be offered a choice of whether they want to be looked after by a smoking or non-smoking carer.

At the same time carers would be warned they should not buy cigarettes for children and they should never be used as a reward for good behaviour.

Young people and children in council care who are known to smoke would also be offered advice on how to kick the habit.

Smoking has been linked to cot death, respiratory infections, asthma and middle ear disease in very young children.

Long-term exposure to smoking can also lead to chances of contracting cancer and heart disease in later life.

Coun Linda Burgess, cabinet spokeswoman for children, young people and families, said: "In the recent past the Fostering Network, a national organisation advising on good practice in looking after Children in Care, and the British Association for Fostering and Adoption have both published guidance about the need to protect children who are fostered or adopted from the potential effects of smoking and of passive smoking.

"Barnsley Council is actively engaged in developing its practice using this helpful guidance.

"The elements of a draft policy are in preparation; consultation with foster carers and adopters is under way and there are plans to involve children and young people in care in discussions about these issues.

"The council would have the final say in any official policy.

"As corporate parents of children in care Barnsley members and officers take very seriously their role in securing safe, happy, healthy and where possible long-lasting placements for children in a family setting where foster carers provide good role models.

"Any policies we develop about this will give priority to the support that foster carers and prospective carers would need to be able to meet the requirements."

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